After running mid-pack for most of the race at Pocono Raceway, Jeff Gordon pulled off a 3rd place finish after fuel strategy worked to the advantage of the #24 team. A green flag run to the finish following the final round of stops allowed Gordon to move up from 15th to 3rd in the final 3 laps as drivers pitted for fuel. Gordon tied Mark Martin for the most top-5 finishes (20) at Pocono.
Gordon started 9th and moved up to 7th by the end of the first lap. The first caution waved on lap 5 after Kasey Kahne spun off turn 3 and drilled the pit wall. After a 30-minute red flag for repairs to the pit wall, racing resumed on lap 8. Gordon took 6th from Tony Stewart on lap 13 and ran there when the competition caution waved on lap 15. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 4th place. He took 3rd from Austin Dillon prior to the next caution on lap 21 for Kevin Harvick’s blown engine. The next caution came on lap 28 after Ricky Stenhouse drilled the turn 1 wall. Gordon came to pit road for tires and fuel. Some drivers stayed on the track who had previously pitted, which sent Gordon to 23rd place for the restart. He re-entered the top-20 on lap 40 as drivers ahead began pitting under green. Gordon advanced as high as 2nd place during the pit sequence before coming to pit road on lap 59. The next caution came on lap 62 for a loose tire on pit road. Gordon restarted in 12th place on lap 65. However, on the restart, Gordon was shoved out of the groove and had to dramatically slow to avoid Kurt Busch’s spin in turn 1. He fell to 16th place for the restart on lap 71. Gordon ran 16th at the halfway point on lap 80.
Gordon moved up to 5th place during a green flag pit stop sequence. A caution for Alex Kennedy’s crash on lap 91 brought out the caution. Gordon pitted for tires and fuel and restarted in 16th place. He struggled on the restart and dropped to 21st place before rallying back to 19th on lap 100. He stayed out to lead a lap during a green flag pit sequence and came to pit road with 33 laps to go. As the laps wound down, Gordon moved up to 17th with 13 laps to go, and took 16th from Ryan Newman with 11 to go. With 4 to go, he moved into the top-15 with a move around Greg Biffle. As drivers ran out of fuel, Gordon moved into the top-5 and came across the line in 3rd place. It was his best finish since Bristol in April (span of 13 races). Gordon remains 12th in the NASCAR Chase standings with 5 races to go until the Chase begins.
“It would be a long, long list if we talked to a bunch of people in the grandstands and myself, and everybody on pit road and probably people watching at home to find out who was more surprised [with the finish]. That was crazy. I’m so proud of (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and everybody on this team. We fought through a lot. We’ve been fighting hard. We just haven’t been getting the results. Today they stuck with a strategy and it played out. It wasn’t looking good at times, but boy, it sure looked good when we crossed the finish line and got the checkered flag.
source: Jeff Gordon Online
Jeff Gordon Pocono In-Car Audio
MP3 Download – without spotter chatter
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MP3 Download – with spotter chatter
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Jeff Gordon Pocono Post Race Press Conference Audio
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Jeff Gordon Pocono Photos
Jeff Gordon Pocono